By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – The Lee County School Board approved a $1.8 million expansion and renovation project at Saltillo Primary School.
The project is the second to proceed from July’s $13.5 million bond approval. In total, the bond issue will fund projects at nine schools.
The Saltillo project will add an extension to the existing second-grade wing to allow for six new classrooms and two new restrooms. It includes the construction of a new physical education building, which will clear space to expand the cafeteria.
Burton Builders Inc. of Belmont was the low bidder, and its $1,847,000 proposal comes in under what the district had budgeted for the work. The districtreceived eight bids for the project.
Work likely will begin in early February. The cafeteria work is to be completed by Aug. 1. The rest of the project should be finished by Dec. 1.
The school board declined to accept two additional alternates to the project. One would have added two offices and a restroom to the first-grade hallway for $237,000. The other would have added a stone parking area for $41,000.
Board members said they were hesitant to approve the extra costs because there is an uncertainty about how much the work at Guntown Middle School will cost. A historic building at the school was damaged by termites and mold and officials are still trying to determine how expensive repairs may be.
Board members opted to leave money in reserve in case it is needed for that project. They could revisit the added work at Saltillo Primary School later.
The primary school’s enrollment is 825 students. Although the six new classrooms will be on the second-grade wing, Principal Ken Smith said he isn’t yet sure which grades will use them.
“What we hope the work will do is give us some relief for the future,” Smith said. “Expanding the cafeteria will help with our scheduling so it won’t be so tight. That all goes back to increasing instructional time.”
The board in November approved the construction of a new classroom building at Plantersville Middle School. Burton Builders also received that contract for $752,000.
It includes five classrooms, a teacher workroom and restrooms and is expected to be complete by next school year.